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Health Information Center


  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:




Omphalocele is a birth defect. It is a gap in the muscles and skin where the belly button should be. Abdominal tissue and organs push through the gap to the outside of the body where they are contained in a sac.

Normal Anatomy of the Abdominal Organs.

nucleus fact sheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=28472847exh5601.jpgNormal Anatomy of the Large and Small IntestineNULLjpgNormal Anatomy of the Large and Small IntestineNULL\\filer01\Intellect\images\exh5601.jpgCopyright © 2002 Nucleus Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.17NULL2002-10-012914592847_854505279390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The cause of omphalocele is not known. It may be due to a mix of genes and the environment.

Risk Factors

Omphalocele is more common in girls.

The risk of this problem is higher in people who are pregnant and:

  • Take certain medicines, such as asthma medicine and antidepressants
  • Smoke
  • Drinking alcohol

Being overweight or obese before pregnancy also raises the risk.


An omphalocele will be seen around the belly button.


Omphalocele may be suspected during a fetal ultrasound. After birth, an omphalocele can be found by viewing it.


The omphalocele will need to be repaired with surgery. The goal of surgery is to put the tissue back in place and close the gap. How this is done depends on the size of the omphalocele. More than one surgery may be needed.


A pregnant person can lower the risk of omphalocele in the baby by:

  • Reaching a healthy weight before becoming pregnant
  • Talking to the doctor about medicines taken during pregnancy, especially asthma medicine and antidepressants
  • Not smoking
  • Not drinking alcohol




  • Facts about omphalocele. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/Omphalocele.html.
  • Omphalocele. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/omphalocele.


  • Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.